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Al Qaeda may seek vengeance for bin Laden: U.S.

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US government urged police and the public to be on high alert Monday for possible terrorist plots to avenge slain Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, warning Western targets around the world were at risk.

CIA director Leon Panetta, a key architect of the daring US special forces raid that left bin Laden dead at a secretive Pakistan compound, warned “terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him.”

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“We must — and will — remain vigilant and resolute,” Panetta said, as concerns about retaliation tempered exuberant celebrations of bin Laden’s slaying nearly 10 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In New York, where Al-Qaeda suicide operatives used passenger airplanes as guided missiles to destroy the World Trade Center Towers, beefed-up police patrols carried assault rifles at “Ground Zero” and subway stations.

“As of now, there are no new immediate threats against our city. But there is no doubt we remain a top target, and the killing of Bin Laden will not change that,” cautioned New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In Washington, flocks of tourists strolled past the marble-domed US Capitol, as police tasked with lawmakers’s safety deployed what they described as “enhanced security measures” there and at congressional office buildings.

“The public may notice an increased police presence and enhanced patrols in the field — and some measures may not even be visible to the public,” said a spokeswoman, Sergeant Kimberly Schneider.

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US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said authorities were “at a heightened state of vigilance” as her agency issued a private message to security personnel nationwide darkly warning of possible attacks.

“The Intelligence Community (IC) assesses the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden could result in retaliatory attacks in the Homeland and against US and Western interests overseas,” it said in the bulletin, which AFP obtained.

The department said attacks could originate among core Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas, among the group’s overseas affiliates, or individuals who are not members but who identify with the extremist network.

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“Overseas, the strongest reaction is expected to be in South Asia but will likely occur to differing degrees worldwide, including Europe,” warned the department, which was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“Other high-risk regions include those where Al-Qaeda’s affiliates and allies have operational strongholds, including the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia,” it said in the message.

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US intelligence “lacks current insight into Al-Qaeda’s selection of Homeland targets, but as seen in previous Al-Qaeda core plotting symbolic, economic, and transportation targets could be at risk,” the department warned.

“Small-arms attacks against soft targets, which could be perceived as more achievable than other types of attacks, cannot be ruled out,” it said, noting it had “no indications of advanced Al-Qaeda core plotting efforts” on US soil.

But bin Laden’s death may lead Al-Qaeda operatives to “accelerate” planning for attacks in the United States and “may provide justification for radicalized individuals in the United States to rapidly mobilize for attacks here.”

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US authorities “are on what I would describe as an unofficial high alert for the natural reason that they worry there’s going to be a retaliatory attack,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman told reporters.

“Thank God, so far they have no specific or credible evidence” he said, stressing that “we need everybody in America to follow the ‘see something, say something’ rule” of telling police about suspicious activity.

Lieberman said he had been briefed by Napolitano earlier about her decision not to issue a new terrorism alert, citing the lack of precise information about a threat.

In Los Angeles, authorities reportedly tightened security at area airports and other potential targets and urged the public to report any suspicious activity.

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American Airlines ordered passengers to stop social distancing — because they hadn’t paid for exit seats

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On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the flight crew on an American Airlines trip ordered two passengers to stop social distancing and move back to their seats.

The reason? The empty row they moved into cost slightly more.

"On a June 30 flight on American Airlines from Dallas to Newark, Joy Gonzalez, an aviation engineer based in Seattle, found herself seated at a window with two older passengers beside her in the middle and aisle seats," reported Elaine Glusac. "In order to gain more social distance, she and the aisle passenger both moved to seats behind them where two rows were empty. But before takeoff, a flight attendant ordered them back to their assigned seats, telling them they had not paid for those exit row seats, which are more expensive."

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Joe Shapiro’s wife disputes Mary Trump’s claim her husband took SATs for Trump

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Mary Trump's upcoming tell-all book alleges that President Donald Trump's sister did his homework and friend and fellow University of Pennsylvania graduate, Joe Shapiro, took his SATs for him.

ABC News reported Wednesday that Pam Shriver, Shapiro's widow, said that he would never have done something like that.

"He always did the right thing, and that's why this hurts," said Shriver.

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Kayleigh McEnany says she has no ‘data’ on whether Tulsa rally increased COVID — but city official says it likely did

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At Wednesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was confronted with the fact that President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma led to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Her reply was to plead ignorance: "I have no data to indicate that."

However, according to a health official in Tulsa, the pattern of cases indicates it is "likely" that it did just that.

"President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests 'likely contributed' to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday," reported Sean Murphy for the Associated Press. "Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday."

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